Pei Pei Chei Ow
An artistic menu of Indigenous cuisine.
Pei Pei Chei Ow
#102, 11051 97th Street (inside Whiskeyjack Art House)
Open Wednesday to Saturday: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Boyle Street and McCauley may be downtown and urban, but our city neighbourhood is also where Saskatoon berries and wild asparagus grows just below the Stadium LRT station. Huge herds of bison roamed right to the edge of the River Valley until our houses were here. Ducks and geese still swim in the North Saskatchewan River below Jasper Avenue.
That natural fruit and meat sustained the people right here for thousands of years, and they – and the people who harvested it – haven’t gone away just because the few remaining bison are now on ranches.
In the previous issue of the paper, I reviewed Tee Pee Treats on 102A Avenue. There’s another exciting new Indigenous eatery hidden in McCauley, called Pei Pei Chei Ow (pronounced pe-pe-s-chew). We discovered Pei Pei Chei Ow inside the front gallery entrance while checking out the beautiful Whiskeyjack Art House on 97th street near the corner of 111th Avenue. Just inside, art fills the walls, and in front of you will be an equally artistic menu, seasonally changing with the natural cycles of what ingredients are freshest and currently available.
We were intrigued by the Berry BBQ Brisket Sandwich. A tangy berry compote contrasted with the deep flavours of the tender meat, enhancing both elements of the sandwich. Next was the Breakfast Sandwich, with perfectly-cooked egg and a little hit of richness with salt and fats from the mortadella, offset with the crisp bite of arugula and the real surprise: a bright green pea pesto that contained such freshness that it was like opening a pea pod in a garden. Our final selection was beef stew accompanied by bannock, which was deep and hearty, sustaining us well past the time we’d usually get hungry again – a real comfort food.
Founded by Chef Scott Iserhoff, Pei Pei Chei Ow was the name his Moshom (Grandfather) Louis gave to Scott during his childhood. It means “robin” in Omushkegowin (Swampy Cree).
Iserhoff says, in an article at Explore Edmonton, “Our Edmonton-based catering company offers contemporary Indigenous cuisine, inspired by the land, life, and seasons that surround us. We incorporate a variety of Traditional and Western ingredients to create food experiences that tell a story. From large public events, to small specialty dinners, we create elaborate and customized menus that use Indigenous cooking techniques while exploring the impact of colonialism on the Indigenous food system and our contemporary Culture.”
As well as serving at the gallery with take-out, and catering for events around Edmonton, Pei Chei Ow also offers a variety of cooking classes to share their knowledge of Indigenous cooking, traditions, and culture.
“I feel a responsibility to showcase Indigenous food,” lserhoff says in the Explore Edmonton article. And showcase it he does. I love that I can go there and have something new, not boring or ordinary. Yet the food is somehow comforting and familiar, even to this old white guy. Maybe, just maybe, that’s because it’s genuinely the food from right here, our shared home.
Alan lives in McCauley. He is the Chair of the paper’s Board of Directors.